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BIG READ: Twitter Riot over THE KILLING Finale

Published June 23, 2011 on Vancouver is Awesome

For reasons I don’t need to explain, I’m no fan of riots, even Twitter riots which are benign with no cars overturned or set on fire. But a Twitter riot is still a mob and a frenzied one at that: spewing F-U tweets at Vancouver-filmed The Killing and capital letter advisories to anyone planning to watch, DON’T DO IT! SAVE YOURSELVES!!! There’s even a web site: f—thekilling.com which says “Dear The Killing: F— you!!! Sincerely, Everyone Who Used to Watch Your Show.”

What set if off? Here come the spoilers. The finale didn’t solve the central mystery and show’s marketed tagline: Who Killed Rosie Larsen? And in a surprise if clumsy twist, it turned detective Stephen Holder, one of the few likable characters, into a seeming villain, who betrayed lead detective Sarah Linden and set up Seattle mayoral candidate Darren Richmond for arrest.

AOL TV critic Maureen Ryan (@MoRyan) pronounced it the “worst finale ever” on Twitter. Really? Ever? She elaborated in her linked review, saying she hated it with the “burning intensity of 10,000 white-hot suns” and held first-time showrunner Veena Sud responsible for not telling viewers who killed Rosie Larsen, turning Holder into a villain and a “number of other stupidly melodramatic, preposterously manipulative things.” She then retroactively called the 13-episode series a “crapfest” and hoped the actors wouldn’t return for a second season. Later she tweeted that it would be smart if AMC withdrew its renewal. It’s stuff like this from many critics as well as countless furious ex-fans which prompted Show Patrol to tweet: “I’m laughing at over-the-top reactions to season finale of [The Killing] as if, um, Veena Sud killed someone. Breathe, folks, breathe.”

Full dislosure: I am not blind to the show’s weaknesses, but won’t join the braying mob. I remain a fan of The Killing, having spent too many hours in real rain watching it film here for four months (while imagining how much worse it was for lead actors Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman being hosed with fake rain from the show’s rain towers). There’s more than a little hometown pride involved, even though this is an American series set in Seattle.

I met the two young actors who play Rosie’s brothers outside her funeral in St. James Church in late January without knowing whose funeral it was. After filming wrapped in April and mid-way through the two-and-a-half-month broadcast I spied a Cowichan-sweater-wearing Gwen (actor Kristin Lehman) getting on the Canada Line at City Hall station. I ran into Rosie’s teacher (local actor Brandon Jay McLaren) two or three times, most recently in a downtown cafe as I was writing this blogpost. Other people met Rosie herself( local actor Katie Findlay now filming in Indonesia).

And while I saw and photographed a lot of The Killing on location, there were plenty of scenes I wish I’d seen: like Mireille Enos as Linden jogging in Horseshoe Bay with the Queen of Capilano as a backdrop and clue. Also that wonderful debauched scene of Patrick Gilmore (Stargate Universe’s Volker) as billionaire Tom Drexler partying in a speedo inside Chinatown’s Keefer Hotel penthouse, with Beau Soleil escorts swimming above his head in the ceiling lap pool. It prompted SGU writer Ken Kabotoff to tweet to Gilmore: “Please don’t ever wear a speedo again.” Others saw Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman retracing Rosie’s desperate flight from her killer in the very green Tynehead Park in Surrey.

I also saw The Killing crew set up for the big arrest at a Darren Richmond political rally staged on the basketball courts at Andy Livingstone Park. It wasn’t hard to figure out what was coming after seeing Linden’s unmarked police car and several Seattle police cars parked on Keefer Street and the filming notice even detailed the scene: “actors playing police officers and carrying exposed replica weapons will arrive in squad cars to make an arrest.” I held onto that spoiler for two months figuring I had the answer to “Who Killed Rosie Larsen?” but the show telegraphed Richmond’s arrest so loudly in the penultimate episode that it was obvious there would be a final twist — a bait-and-switch twist that provoked the Twitter riot.

Lost showrunner Damian Lindelof immediately called “Bullshit” on the over-the-top reactions. The New York Times and lead Mireille Enos, who called it “awesome” , gave the finale positive reviews and some critics did see humour in the furor, wondering what the Twitter reaction might have been to other unsatisfying endings like The Empire Strikes Back. One warned that if How I Met Your Mother didn’t reveal the mother on that night’s repeat it would be an epic fail.

That said, I believe Veena Sud squandered a wonderful opportunity by not creating a cohesive world (too many inconsistencies in plot and character) and by not deciding ahead of time who the killer would be — instead having the writers follow around seven or so characters to see where they would lead. “Cool atmospherics” and masterful lead performances only go so far. But I’ll be back for season two or as I tweeted post-finale: “Despite maddening plotholes I want more. ” After all, this was a season not a series finale.

And the numbers don’t reflect the polarizing reaction yet. The Killing opened to an average 2.7 million for its two-hour premiere and two encores in early April., and ended last Sunday with an average 2.3 million (both audiences second only to The Walking Dead among AMC premieres and finales) . We won’t know how much that audience will shrink until the Season 2 premiere but one thing’s for sure — The Killing can no longer call itself “critically-acclaimed” when it returns to Vancouver late this year to resume filming.

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